The 2021 NASCAR Playoffs start on Sunday and Ryan Blaney couldn't be more excited. That's because no one has driven as well as him in recent weeks. In fact, Blaney is coming off back-to-back wins and had a runner-up finish prior to that. Sunday's 2021 Cook Out Southern 500 is the first of 10 NASCAR Cup Series playoff races and Blaney is hoping his hot streak continues. The 27-year-old hasn't had much success at Darlington Raceway, but he did have a career-best eighth-place finish there earlier this year.

Ahead of the green flag dropping at 6 p.m. ET, Blaney is a 22-1 long shot in the 2021 NASCAR at Darlington odds at Caesars Sportsbook. Others with considerably more success on the track have better 2021 Cook Out Southern 500 odds, including Kyle Larson (11-4), Martin Truex Jr. (9-2) and Denny Hamlin (5-1). The level of competition always goes up a notch when the NASCAR Playoffs 2021 roll around, so this should be a highly entertaining race. Before scouring the 2021 Cook Out Southern 500 starting lineup and making any NASCAR at Darlington predictions, be sure to see the latest 2021 Cook Out Southern 500 picks from SportsLine's proven projection model.

Developed by daily Fantasy pro and SportsLine predictive data engineer Mike McClure, this proprietary NASCAR prediction model simulates every race 10,000 times, taking into account factors such as track history and recent results.

The model began the 2020 season paying out big by picking Denny Hamlin to win his second consecutive Daytona 500 at 10-1. The model also called Kevin Harvick's win at Atlanta and nailed a whopping nine top-10 finishers in that race. McClure then used the model to lock in a 10-1 bet on Hamlin for his win at Miami.

At the Brickyard, the model called Harvick's fourth victory of the season. Then during the 2020 NASCAR Playoffs, the model nailed its NASCAR picks in back-to-back races, calling Denny Hamlin to win at 17-2 at Talladega and Chase Elliott to win at 7-2 at the Charlotte Roval.

In the 2021 season, McClure nailed Martin Truex Jr. to win at Martinsville for a strong 3-1 payout. The model also nailed Kyle Larson winning the NASCAR All-Star Race at 5-2 and hit Larson again at the Ally 400 for another 5-2 payout. It also called Chase Elliott to win at Road America for a 5-2 payout and then correctly predicted the top five drivers at Watkins Glen. Anyone who has followed its lead on those plays has seen huge returns.

Now, the model simulated the 2021 Cook Out Southern 500 10,000 times. Head to SportsLine to see the complete projected 2021 NASCAR at Darlington leaderboard.

Top 2021 Cook Out Southern 500 predictions

One surprise: the model is high on Kurt Busch, even though he's a 40-1 long shot in the latest NASCAR at Darlington odds 2021. He's a target for anyone looking for a huge payday. Busch currently sits in 11th place in NASCAR standings but is surging at just the right time. After just two top-10s in his first 15 races, Busch has seven over his last 11 starts heading into the playoffs.

A 22-year veteran of the Cup Series, Busch has as much NASCAR at Darlington success as anyone. He has 11 top-10 finishes at the track and has seemed to discover what works versus what doesn't work at Darlington in recent years. Over his last nine races at the track, he has six top-10 finishes and would likely have even more if he hadn't crashed twice.

A massive shocker: Denny Hamlin, one of the top Vegas favorites at 5-1, stumbles big-time and barely cracks the top five. There are far better values in this loaded 2021 Cook Out Southern 500 starting grid. Hamlin spent the majority of the 2021 NASCAR season leading the NASCAR Cup Series standings, but he was never able to get to Victory Lane despite winning five stages this year and leading in 22 of 26 races so far this season.

Hamlin has finished outside of the top 10 in two of his last three starts. Even though he's a three-time winner at Darlington, he has finished 10th or worse in three of his last six starts there. A championship is the only accolade missing from a Hall of Fame career, but the 40-year-old will have an uphill climb to reach that goal in 2021 entering the playoffs sitting seventh in the standings because of his lack of wins.

How to make 2021 NASCAR at Darlington picks

The model is also targeting three other drivers with 2021 NASCAR at Darlington odds of 15-1 or longer to make a serious run at winning it all. It also sees value in a massive triple-digit long shot. Anyone who backs these drivers could hit it big. You can see all of the model's NASCAR picks over at SportsLine.

So who wins the 2021 Cook Out Southern 500? And which massive triple-digit long shot is a shocking value? Check out the latest 2021 NASCAR at Darlington odds below, then visit SportsLine now to see the full projected 2021 Cook Out Southern 500 leaderboard, all from the model that has called several race winners this season and nailed the top five at Watkins Glen

2021 Cook Out Southern 500 odds

Kyle Larson 11-4
Martin Truex Jr. 9-2
Denny Hamlin 5-1
Kyle Busch 11-2
Kevin Harvick 15-2
Chase Elliott 10-1
William Byron 15-1
Brad Keselowski 15-1
Joey Logano 15-1
Alex Bowman 20-1
Ryan Blaney 22-1
Christopher Bell 30-1
Tyler Reddick 40-1
Kurt Busch 40-1
Matt DiBenedetto 60-1
Austin Dillon 75-1
Aric Almirola 75-1
Ross Chastain 100-1
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 250-1
Ryan Newman 300-1
Chase Briscoe 300-1
Bubba Wallace 300-1
Chris Buescher 300-1
Erik Jones 300-1
Daniel Suarez 300-1
Cole Custer 300-1
Michael McDowell 500-1
Ryan Preece 1000-1
Justin Haley 2500-1
James Davison 5000-1
BJ McLeod 5000-1
Josh Bilicki 5000-1
Joey Gase 5000-1
Cody Ware 5000-1
Quin Houff 5000-1
Corey Lajoie 5000-1
Anthony Alfredo 5000-1